Thrivent, Habitat for Humanity partnership beautifies homes

Volunteerism is alive and well in Westminster and, at least to those who participated in a recent beautification program near McDaniel College, it just plain feels good.

Habitat for Humanity of Carroll County partnered with Thrivent Financial to support the ongoing partnership between Habitat and Thrivent, which helps families in the United States and across the globe obtain strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter, Habitat announced in a news release.


The partnership funded the beautification on April 14 of six homes that had been built by Habitat for Humanity over the past decade, as well as Union Street United Methodist Church, in the Union Street/39th Street area of Westminster, through the Thrivent Builds Repairs program, which helps Habitat to make repairs to existing homes alongside homeowners who lack the resources or ability to make the repairs themselves.

"It was an opportunity to help the neighborhoods, and individual homeowners," said Ron Nawrot, construction committee chair for Habitat for Humanity of Carroll County, who helped to organize the April 14 event. "It's just a good feeling being able to help out."


Some 30 people turned up to help, including volunteers from Habitat for Humanity of Carroll County, the new Habitat for Humanity McDaniel College chapter, Thrivent, and Westminster United Methodist, Sandy Mount United Methodist, Grace Lutheran and Union Street United Methodist churches, not to mention some of the homeowners themselves. Silver Oak Academy delivered lunch.

The Westminster Library’s Exploration Commons at 50 East project has received its first donation and the Board of Commissioners has chosen Mans Woodward Studios as the architect. Sharon Hafner Yingling, committee chair for the fundraising project, and John Yingling have offered a $50,000 gift.

"It was a lot of fun. Get up early, do some volunteerism — a perfect way to start the day," said Gunnar Ward, president of the McDaniel Habitat for Humanity chapter. "One of the greatest things about it was, it was right in the backyard to the McDaniel College campus. To give back to the community that has given so much to us was incredibly rewarding."

Ward and Nawrot said the group did some light refurbishments to the properties, installing some vinyl screens to hide trash cans, doing yard work, mulching, planting flowers replacing some trash cans, lids and flower pots — just generally sprucing things up a bit.

"It is inspiring to work alongside Habitat families, Thrivent members and other volunteers to build and repair homes," said Deb McCarty, a financial associate with Thrivent, in a prepared statement. "Sharing our time and talents to live generously and strengthen our community is a great way to get to know our neighbors and make a real difference."

Since the partnership's inception in 2005, and through 2017, Thrivent and its members have contributed more than $240 million and more than 5.2 million volunteer hours around the world. Thrivent is the largest non-governmental supporter of Habitat for Humanity International.

Bryan Lyburn, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Carroll County, said in a prepared statement: "We value our partnership with Thrivent Financial, and are grateful for their hands-on support. Business partnerships such as this can make a huge impact on our community."

Thrivent calls itself a financial services organization that helps Christians be wise with money and live generously. Habitat for Humanity of Carroll County is part of a global, nonprofit housing organization operated on Christian principles that seeks to put God's love into action by building homes, communities and hope, according to Habitat.

It is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing locally and worldwide through constructing, rehabilitating and preserving homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions.

"We do these type of things — repairs, refurbish — different projects we get involved in as we can," Nawrot said. "We're limited by funds, which is why volunteerism is so important."

Roaring Run Lions Club will hold a National Prevention Week Kickoff event with direction and assistance from Carroll County Health Department on Monday, May 14, at the Carroll Arts Center.

One of Habitat for Humanity of Carroll County's major projects is, for the seventh time in less than four years, offering a zero-percent interest mortgage-financed house in Westminster, available to a selected person or family who meet the income requirements — a family of four must earn less than $54,660 a year — and is willing to partner with Habitat to do the rehab work on the property.

The home in question is a three-bedroom, 1.5-bath, split-foyer duplex at 164 S. Court St., Westminster. Those interested can learn more and apply online at www.cchabitat.org, by calling 410-751-7722 or sending email to applications@cchabitat.org. Applications must be received by Friday, May 4.

Clearly, Ward is glad to be a part of the Habitat family.


The McDaniel chapter is brand-new and he said they are planning fundraisers for the fall. The goal, he said, is to make a significant contribution to the Habitat for Humanity of Carroll County chapter in terms of donations and volunteering. The college is committed to volunteerism both locally and globally, Ward said, and he is expecting "lots of new members" in the fall.

As for the recent event, Ward was one of eight McDaniel students, all members of the school's new Habitat for Humanity chapter, who took part.

"Gunnar and his troops from the college helped a lot," Nawrot said.

Said Ward: "It was really excellent. Habitat for Humanity of Carroll County has been so supportive and we are extremely grateful. To finally work with them was so great."

For more information about Thrivent Builds programs, visit www.thriventbuilds.com. To learn about local volunteer opportunities, visit www.cchabitat.org.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun